2nd of April is Autism Awareness Day. Read Joaquim's story below to find out how an advocate can support someone with Autism to make their voice heard and uphold their rights.

Joaquim's story

The POhWER IMCA service received a referral for a young man, Joaquim, who needed support around a change of accommodation. Joaquim has severe Autism, a Learning Difficulty and Cerebral Palsy and is unable to communicate over the phone or via video link.

Joaquim’s accommodation did not meet his needs and there had been previous safeguarding concerns raised. It was therefore very important for consideration to be given for a change of accommodation for him to somewhere that better suited his needs. IMCA James was assigned to support Joaquim.

Due to COVID-19 face to face visits had not been taking place. However, this case was assessed as needing a face to face visit. After lengthy discussions with social services, senior POhWER managers and completion of comprehensive risk assessments the meeting was scheduled at Joaquim’s home with PPE provided to James by the local authority.

James was nervous about undertaking a home visit during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. James was supported by his Regional Manager and by the protocols that POhWER had put in place to keep everyone safe. This helped James to feel safe and he was pleased that he was able to support Joaquim in person as this was the most accessible way for him.

It was important for Joaquim to feel comfortable with James as his advocate despite having to adhere to the 2m distance rule and James wearing a face mask. James took with him a laminated photograph of himself without the face mask, which Joaquim took a good look at and seemed to accept as being the same person.

The meeting went well and James helped Joaquim to put forward his wishes for a change of accommodation. Joaquim is now awaiting the final decision from the Decision Maker.